Headlines for Monday, May 25, 2015
Rough Weather Hits Southwest Kansas
DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — The National Weather Service says a super cell storm swept across western Kansas, spawning at least one tornado. Michael Scott, meteorologist with the weather service in Dodge City, said Monday that heavy storms hit southwest Kansas late Sunday night, producing a tornado that reportedly touched down in Ford County. No injuries have been reported. Scott says damage has been reported to a wind turbine, power lines and at least one home. He says crew are assessing the damage to determine whether the damage was from a tornado. He says a trained spotter also reported a wedge tornado in the area late Sunday, but that had not been confirmed. The Emporia Gazette also reports that several roads in Lyon County, including a section of Kansas 99, were closed because of flooding.
Steady Rain Swelling Kansas Rivers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Heavy storms across Kansas and Missouri over the weekend pushed streams and rivers out of their banks, and forecasters say more rain is likely this week. A flash flood watch was issued Sunday for sections of Kansas, including in the southeast and the Wichita area, where another round of thunderstorms was expected Monday on already saturated ground and could lead to minor flooding along area rivers.
Heavy Rains Boost Confidence for Midwest Ranchers
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Drenching rains in recent weeks across Kansas and other major livestock-grazing states are greening pastures just as ranchers move cattle out for summer. The annual rite of driving cattle out to pasture comes as ranchers try to rebuild herds that were decimated when they sold off much of their livestock because of drought-shriveled pastures and skyrocketing hay prices last year. All the rain lately bodes well for the continued expansion of the nation's cattle herd. It's a good sign for consumers too, with experts saying beef prices will come down from the record prices now averaging $6.08 a pound for fresh beef.
Kansas State Hospitals Face Staffing Shortages
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — New data show that state hospitals in Kansas face persistent staffing shortages, with at least one facility posting a recent 40 percent staff vacancy rate. Data provided by the Kansas Department on Aging and Disability Services, the agency that oversees the facilities, demonstrate continued staffing shortfalls at the state hospitals. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Osawatomie State Hospital has a nearly 40 percent staff vacancy rate, and Larned State Hospital has a nearly 35 percent vacancy rate. KDADS says while there are vacancies, patients are receiving appropriate care. KDADS spokeswoman Cara Sloan-Ramos also says Larned and Osawatomie are both small communities and that recruiting and retention of staff is always a priority.
Fire Reported at Pet Store; Crews Work to Save Animals
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Veterinarians and emergency officials worked to save animals after a fire broke out at a Lawrence pet store. Lawrence police Sergeant Trent McKinley says the fire at Pet World started about noon. The Lawrence Journal World reports that rescue workers brought out 20 to 30 tarantulas, a large python and other reptiles. Some rats, a few hamsters and gerbils stored in a separate structure were also rescued. Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Division Chief Eve Tolefree says other animals died in the fire, but it was unclear how many. She says the cause of the fire is under investigation. Veterinarians and shop workers set up a makeshift triage area where animals could be iced down and given oxygen. The store was closed Monday when the fire broke out.
Man Placed in Sex Predator Program Sees It as Life Sentence
LARNED, Kan. (AP) — Carlos Lively says he may be confined by the state of Kansas for the rest of his life although he completed a prison sentence for a sex offense nine years ago. The 30-year-old is one of 258 patients committed indefinitely to an expanding treatment program that the state of Kansas says keeps the public safe from violent sexual predators who would otherwise go free after serving jail time. Only three patients have been released from the program since its inception in 1994, while 27 have died. A state audit report released in April found its costs were soaring as it adds 10 to 15 patients per year, increasing concerns that some offenders who could be released are being held in the expensive program due to flaws in its treatment regimen.
Earthquakes Rattle South-Central Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two earthquakes have hit south-central Kansas, and one could be felt almost 100 miles away. The U.S. Geological Survey says an earthquake measuring 3.3 on the Richter Scale hit southwest of Pratt near Sun City in Barber County on Saturday morning. A second earthquake measuring 4.0 hit in nearly the same area about three hours later. The second earthquake could be felt in Wichita. Both earthquakes measured about three miles deep. More than 200 earthquakes have been recorded in Kansas since 2013 in an unprecedented spike in seismic activity. In April, the U.S. Geological Survey released a report that said man-made quakes tied to oil industry operations have been on the rise.
New Kansas Law on Concealed Guns Concerns College Officials
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Faculty and students have expressed concern about how a law allowing people to carry concealed guns into buildings on Kansas college campuses will affect the classroom. After July 1, 2017, campus buildings in Kansas have to allow concealed carry unless the building has adequate security. But Board of Regents Chairman Kenny Wilk says universities won't be installing security at all of their 800-plus buildings. Wilk says a possibility is installing security at selective buildings. Michael Williams, incoming Kansas University Senate president told The Lawrence Journal-World there are concerns about the how weapons in the classroom will affect the open expression of ideas.
Kansas City Not Putting Minimum Wage Hike on August Ballot
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City leaders have opted against putting a measure on the August ballot that would have given voters a chance to decide whether the city should raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour. But Mayor Sly James says the City Council will begin discussions immediately with a variety of groups in an attempt to reach a consensus by mid-July. Several faith-based, labor and social justice groups gathered nearly 4,000 signatures of registered voters for a ballot measure to increase the city's minimum wage to $10 an hour by September 1, with annual increments until the wage hit $15 by 2020. The Kansas City Star reports that supporters agreed to hang onto the petition and let the council make a determination on how much to raise the minimum wage.
4 Killed in 2 Separate Kansas Accidents
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Four people died in traffic accidents in Kansas during the holiday weekend. Topeka police say Martez Clark and Corron Baker of Topeka were killed when the car they were in ran off the road near the Sardou Bridge in North Topeka Saturday night. Clarks' three daughters were also in the car but survived the crash. Police say both Clark and Baker were pronounced dead at the scene. The accident remains under investigation. In another accident Saturday, a Haysville couple was killed and two other people were injured when three vehicles collided on U.S. 54 near Pratt. The Kansas Highway Patrol says 60-year-old Nasario Trujillo, and 58-year-old Mary Lou Trujillo, were both killed in the crash. Two other people injured in the accident were hospitalized.
Lawrence Police Investigating Fatal Stabbing
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence police are investigating a fatal stabbing. Lawrence police Sergeant Trent McKinley said in a news release that the stabbing was reported early Monday morning in the 700 block of Arkansas Street. Shortly after 6 am, police and medical personnel went to the parking lot of the McDonalds at 1309 W. Sixth St. after a 911 caller reported a person outside the restaurant was bleeding. The man, in his 40s, was taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where he later died, McKinley said. The crime is being investigated as a homicide because of the victim's injuries. The victim's name hasn't been released. No arrests have been made.
Investigation Launched into KCK Police Photos
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas City, Kansas, police department says it's investigating after photos surfaced of two officers posing with their rifles in front of a vandalized stop sign. The Kansas City Star reports that the photographs show lettering had been added to a stop sign to read, "Cops STOP murder'n." The two officers posed for photos in front of the sign with their patrol rifles. Police spokeswoman Amber Hickerson says the department learned of the photos after a neighbor saw the officers and posted pictures of them on social media. Hickerson did not know where the sign was located but said the vandalized lettering has since been cleaned off. The officers were not identified. The department says the officers showed poor judgment and the photos are "disappointing and inappropriate."
Police Say Man, 21, Fatally Shot in KCK
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police say a 21-year-old man has been shot and killed in Kansas City, Kansas. The police department on Monday identified the victim as Alan Castro of Kansas City, Kansas. Castro was shot Saturday afternoon. Police say the shooting is under investigation.
Kansas City Students Clean Historic African-American Cemetery
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Memorial Day is traditionally a day for cleaning and decorating the graves of veterans and other loved ones. A group of elementary school students in Kansas City, Missouri helped clean veterans' gravestones over the weekend in a mostly abandoned and neglected cemetery to honor the holiday. Students from the Academie Lafayette charter school scrubbed gravestones at the Highland Cemetery, a segregated black cemetery that opened in 1909. Their work revealed names and dates that hadn't been visible in decades. Science teacher Muriel Desbleds received a box of flags from a local VFW chapter to place on veterans' graves. Pianist and band leader Bennie Moten, who helped define Kansas City jazz, is among the many prominent African-American Kansas Citians buried at Highland Cemetery.
Douglas County Judge Orders Trial for Health Aide Charged with Murder
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 49-year-old Eudora health care attendant has pleaded not guilty after a judge ordered him to stand trial for murder. Ronald Eugene Heskett is charged with premeditated first-degree murder in the September 11th, 2014 asphyxiation death of 65-year-old Vance Moulton, who had cerebral palsy. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Heskett was Moulton's home health care provider, and contends the act was an assisted suicide. Douglas County District Judge Peggy Kittel ruled Friday that there was probable cause a crime occurred and bound Heskett over for trial. Judge Kittel said she based her decision on testimony from a preliminary hearing, Heskett's admission to assisting Moulton's death, and "suspicious financial dealings that would give the defendant motive" to commit murder.
Kansas Logs First Sighting of Rare Tropical Bird
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A small bird that's typically found hundreds of miles away in Mexico and South America apparently made its way to western Kansas, watchers say, giving the Sunflower State a couple of possible birding firsts. The piratic flycatcher, a migratory bird that nests as far away as Argentina, has been seen as far north as New Mexico, Texas and Florida. But it hasn't been reported in Kansas until earlier this month. Mike Rader, with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, says if the May 8 sighting at Scott State Park is confirmed by the Kansas Bird Records Committee, it would be the most northerly sighting of the bird. Mark Robbins, records committee chairman, says the documentation with this sighting is so detailed, it's recognition is a "no-brainer."
Royals Lose Game but Win Series vs. St. Louis
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP ) --- The St. Louis Cardinals stopped a three-game losing skid with a 6-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. Cardinals' pitcher Michael Wacha (7-0) threw seven innings for his seventh straight win, and Matt Carpenter hit a two-run homer off the Royals' Yordano Ventura (3-4) in the sixth. Kansas City had won five in a row going into Sunday's game including the first two games against the Cardinals. Ventura started off shaky, walking the first two hitters on 10 pitches and both scored. The Cardinals' Jhonny Peralta hit an RBI single and Matt Adams doubled home a run. Ventura threw 30 pitches in the first inning, then settled down and didn't allow another hit until the sixth. St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina drove in two runs with a two-out single in the eighth. KC's Salvador Perez extended his hitting streak to 10 games and singled home a run for the Royals.